Pain is an interesting phenomenon.
My hand was smashed under a car. All my nerves and tendons were severed. All the skin was ripped off the back of my hand. I stayed up sleepless night after sleepless night in the hospital because they couldn't give me enough medication to make the pain go away. It was the kind of pain that reduced my thoughts to hanging on second my second.
Yet, I can't remember how it felt. Not really. I know it hurt. I can describe it. I can remember how hard it was to endure. I can't feel it.
It's the same with emotions. They are sensations. We feel them, and then we don't. We can name them. We can talk about them. We can imagine them. But we can't conjure them at will. And when we aren't feeling them, imagination doesn't come close to the real thing.
I spend a lot of time thinking about and preparing for challenges that will come my way. Challenges-real ones, hard ones-are accompanied by fear. But I noticed something interesting:
I always discount the presence of fear when I imagine myself taking on challenges.
I'll be intimidated. I'll be scared. Yeah, yeah. But I imagine myself as so hard-working, so proactive, so confident, so self-educated, that I just effortlessly crush one challenge after another on my rise to greatness.
That is a fantasy. It is foolish to assume that you can grow without discomfort. That you can learn without intimidation. That you can take risk without fear.
I was preparing to avoid fear when I should have been preparing to face it.
Really facing fear means acknowledging that you will feel it. You will be really freaking scared. Increased heart rate, sweating, shaking, stuttering kind of scared. Want to run and hide kind of scared.
If you are "preparing" for challenges without acknowledging that, you won't be prepared at all. Fear is not circumvented. It is not avoided. It is not outsmarted. It is felt in all it's glory. And then it is pushed through.